The Spadina Streetcar Turns 20 (Part II)

Part I of this article presented some of the background and construction photos of the Spadina streetcar line which celebrates its 20th birthday on July 27, 2017. In Part II, a look at Spadina in the early months of operation.

Much of the northern part of the street has not changed very much over the years, but the south end with its booming condo district is very different and changing still.

Bloor to Spadina Circle


Spadina Circle to King


King to Queens Quay


Public Art


For a complete list and extensive descriptions of the public art along and near Spadina, see “Creating Memory: A Guide to Outdoor Public Sculpture in Toronto” by John Warkentin starting at page 82.

10 thoughts on “The Spadina Streetcar Turns 20 (Part II)

  1. It feels like this line has gotten slower. A lot of it is probably the behavior of the streetcar drivers. It used to be common to see three or four CLRVs stack up on a platform, sometimes with one stuck in the intersection blocking east west traffic. With the Flexities every car has to wait its turn.

    I have recordings of operations on this line from 2005 and 2006 on miniDV tapes, but I unfortunately don’t have equipment to play them back anymore.


  2. It’s striking to see photos of the central section where there isn’t full separation from the general traffic lanes, to the extent that left turns are still permitted at some intersections for much of the day (you can see the signs prohibiting left turns 6:30-9:30 AM/3:30-6:30 PM M-F and 11-4 Sat/Sun, which by extension means they are permitted at other times). The addition of the islands really changed the feel of the street. I look at some of those early photos and it seems to have an almost “free for all” feel to it.

    There are concrete barriers at a number of stops. I am guessing that this is because the stops were initially built with just shelters on islands but no railings/barriers, and then the City or TTC decided they wanted to force riders to get to and from the islands via the crosswalk, and the concrete barriers were stopgap measures until the permanent railings could be installed?


  3. From spring 1998 I worked in a building on Spadina north of Queen where the windows would open. Before the curbs were bollards, and before the bollards was mayhem. It was perfectly normal to hear tires screeching and streetcar gongs going continuously, with the odd loud bang. I don’t remember if turns at minor intersections went away with the bollards or only with the curbing.

    The Bathurst car is usually much quicker than Spadina, despite the mixed traffic on Bathurst. Fewer passengers, more favourable light timing, and no pedestrians using the ROW as a safety island all help.


  4. Great articles. Thanks for pointing out the public art. I can’t say that I’ve noticed it before, but I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled from now on.


  5. In reply to the first comment from Steve, I have the equipment to convert mini DV to DVD. If you leave a message on here, we can figure how to get in touch with each other.


  6. Bombardier has once again missed it’s yet again watered down delivery schedule. Three new streetcars were to be delivered this month but only one was delivered. I hope that you now realise that a new supplier starting from scratch can deliver the streetcars decades before Bombardier ever can (assuming that Bombardier can ever deliver them all). Not just that but the new Bombardier streetcars are under-performing from day one. I am not anti-streetcars, I just think that we need a new streetcar supplier ASAP.

    Steve: The second of three left Thunder Bay a week ago. I do not know the status of the third car.


  7. Regarding funding of the separated tracks back in 1995-1997. I recall a story that $5 million was donated to the project by a person who wished to remain anonymous. Toronto Star even had a brief interview with the anonymous donor. Anyone remember that? Was the name ever publicised?

    Steve: That’s certainly news to me.


  8. I’m wondering just how long it will be when the condo development will start spreading north on Spadina. At the rate things are going, Bathurst could conceivably experience all this development as well.

    Steve: There are already condos built and in the works at Bloor and Bathurst with a big development to come on the Honest Ed’s site. Spadina is trickier because the landholdings tend to be very broken up making an assembly challenging. There is a particularly ugly student residence at College and Spadina that was opposed by the City but approved by the OMB.


  9. Just to be clear when did the TTC phased in the streetcar horns? Was it in 2011- 2012? Was it done in 2005? or was it sometime in the late 1990’s? I remember hearing streetcar horns for the first time on the 510 Spadina line in 2000. Just to be clear most of the CLRV’s and ALRV’s now have both a bell/gong and a horn while all of the new Flexities which are being delivered between now and 2019 all of which come with a bell and a horn is that correct?

    Steve: The horns were retrofitted to the streetcar fleet from the H-1 subway cars as they were retired. The Flexities come with horns plus an electronic version of a streetcar gong which is rather anemic compared to the real thing.


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